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Photo Credit: Dianne Tack; The Courtroom with [Left to right] Miles Phillips, Brian Linden, Chantal Thomson, Denise DeMirjian & Joshua Warr


Pride River Crossing

                                                  By Joel Benjamin

The Fresh Fruit International Festival of LGBT Arts and Culture celebrated its 10th Anniversary ambitiously presenting theatre works, comedy, readings, music, dance and film. 

I caught Patrick Thomas McCarthy’s Pride River Crossing, subtitled “A Spoon River for a New Century.”  Six fine actors portrayed over forty characters.  Unlike Spoon River, only a few of these are deceased.  Instead, we get a tapestry of interwoven lives, written with an expert ear and an emotional acumen that few modern playwrights possess.  Over the course of an hour and a half, the fictional town of Pride River came alive through the words of its inhabitants, all in a minimal stage set with just chairs and appropriate, scene-setting projections and appropriate, character setting costumes.


Photo Credit: Dianne Tack; [left to right]: The Kelly-Kennedys - Chantal Thomson as Keira Kelly-Kennedy, Miles Phillips as Kevin Kelly-Kennedy; Joshua Warr as Kyle Kelly-Kennedy & Brian Linden as Kenny Kelly-Kennedy


The long list of Pride Riverites includes the very modern Kelly-Kennedy’s—two Dads, teenage brother and sister—are living evidence of Pride River’s LGBT.  The two Dads are ridiculously happy and clueless to the undercurrents of discontent of their children, one of whom is straight and the other hypersensitive to the petty squabbles and money problems. 


Photo Credit: Dianne Tack; Cammy's Cakes with Chantal Thomson as Cammy, Joshua Warr as Jimmy and Brian Linden as Mr. Harold Potter


At the other end of the tolerance spectrum is Trevor whose Mom Rachel home schools him to keep him away from all “perversion.”   Mr. Drama, a schoolteacher worries about being the “spinster” and understands that touching of any kind can easily be misconstrued.  A young man mourns at the grave of his twin sister who died at birth.


Mitzi Reid, the ebullient real estate agent, loves having gays move into Pride River because it raises the value of properties.  A self-described tough guy wants to kill all the gays while Dolores and Angela are ardent pro-gay activists.  A PFLAG mom reveals that three of four kids are gay.

Photo Credit: The Weddings with Left to right - Brian Linden, Miles Phillips, Chantal Thomson, Laurie Strickland and Denise DeMirjian


And so the rich panoply of life and love in Pride River is revealed, far too many to mention individually here, all wonderfully sculpted by Mr. McCarthy’s words, the vocal and physical  nuances of the sensitive cast  (Brian Linden, Denise DeMirjian, Miles Phillips, Laurie Strickland, Joshua Warr and Chantal Thomson) and the rhythm sensitive direction of Patrick Aran.


The only connecting device is a rally that all the characters are aiming to attend, to express whatever personal agenda they have.  Perhaps this is a weak organizing gimmick, but the writing is rich enough to sustain the disjointed nature of Pride River Crossing.


If this show is representative of the Fresh Fruit Festival’s standards this will be around for many more anniversaries.


Pride River Crossing by Patrick Thomas McCarthy

Fresh Fruit International Festival
The Wild Project
195 East 3rd St.(bet. Aves. A & B)
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